In our efforts to strike the right balance between getting enough sunshine to enjoy its many health benefits such as adequate levels of vitamin D while at the same time protecting ourselves from unacceptable levels of skin cancer risk, it became clear that we had to weigh in on some of the problems that exist with sunscreens. Our focus in this multi-part series is on sunscreen products in the United States, thanks to the ongoing efforts of non-governmental organizations to seek the truth about sunscreen products, but the ideas and research apply to any country. Here are some additional things we think you should know about sunscreen products:
Sunscreens and Skin Cancer, a Rocky Relationship. If the whole point of sunscreen products is to reduce the incidence of the deadliest form of skin cancer – melanoma – then the entire project has failed miserably because cases of melanoma continue to climb steadily at a rate of 1.9% each year. Scientists have concluded that both UVA and UVB radiation can cause melanoma, and one of the biggest risk factors is the number of sunburns one has had, especially in childhood. Oddly enough, the melanomas don’t tend to show up on areas that had the burns or exposure to the sun, but the correlation is there nonetheless. But when you dig into the research, it gets more complicated, because studies show that people who use only sunscreens for protection UV radiation actually tend to wind up getting more sunburns. We also know that many sunscreen products don’t filter out much in the way of UVA rays, which can actually be just as damaging as UVB rays even though they don’t cause sunburns. It appears to us that the way the research is heading is this: Yes, you need to protect yourself from getting too much sun, but you shouldn’t avoid the sun altogether. And when you need protection from the sun, it is a mistake to rely solely on sunscreen products for protection. You are much better off using clothing and hats that much more effectively block the sun’s rays than sunscreen products. And this is without even mentioning the fact that many sunscreen products have toxic ingredients.
One thing is clear to us – using the fear of skin cancer to get people to avoid the sun altogether and/or rely on sunscreen products that might be not only ineffective but toxic may cause more widespread health damage than all skin cancers combined.
Sources for Further Reading: